Food Dehydrator Love, Part 2: Bacon Style Eggplant Chips

by Maria Theresa Maggi on September 4, 2014


I’ve always been somewhat taken with the general project of vegan transformations of standard American favorites. It’s just plain fun to make chips out of kale, mayonnaise out of tofu, or, if you’re ingenious like Susan is, chocolate cake with beets.  I rarely want to actually make these things (too lazy), but I love seeing the recipes and the pictures others have taken of their creative efforts. Sometimes, however, as you know, I can’t resist. Go, Carrot Dog, Go! is a perfect example of one of those times. And I guess this post is another.

In my post about the return of the sandwich, i think I mentioned that my Uncle Tom was famous for making a sandwich out of anything. Perhaps it runs in the family, because now that I can have my homemade sourdough spelt bread, I am coming up with combinations for fillings that I’d never have put in a sandwich  when I was eating them all the time.

But times change. Most eggplant bacon recipes out there are designed for those who would like to create a facsimile of the classic BLT. That sounded pretty good to me too.  In turn, it made me remember my uncle and my mother thought peanut butter and bacon were a good match in a sandwich. So I decided I’d make some eggplant “bacon” to go in my own lower fat version, with just a tad of peanut butter and some sweet potato spread across one of the slices of bread and whatever else felt like it would “go” (summer squash and tomato slices, for instance).  One early August evening when I was first trying the marinade for this recipe we had a devil of a windstorm here that lasted all of 20 minutes. As a result, the power was out for 5 hours. There sat my eggplant bacon with no juice to the dehydrator. Since there was no way to finish it and no way to cook dinner,  I sat with the front door open in the gathering dark and quiet and ate a sandwich made of peanut butter, banana and sweet potato. I wondered what my uncle would have thought of that combination. It  was a great comfort of a sandwich, though, along with some kale chips I had made the day before, as I went through the first power outage in my new neighborhood.

However, even though I love to stick these in a sandwich, I stop short of calling this Eggplant Bacon. First of all, I don’t have a mandolin that would achieve the long thin slices from a large eggplant. Secondly, I never really loved bacon, even back when I did eat meat. And I’m not a huge fan of liquid smoke. So I made a simple marinade that approximates a bacon flavor without too much smokiness. If you like the liquid smoke by all means add it in. But if you don’t have any or would rather pass, this marinade is good without it. And these smaller chips, made with very thinly hand  cut slices of long thin eggplants, like Japanese or Italian ones, also can be munched on like, well, chips. You can crumble them onto other things like salads or stir fries, too, but oddly, they are best in a sandwich or just by themselves. At least that’s how I like them best. Here’s an example of what I mean:


The eggplant “chips” in this sandwich were made with a larger eggplant, but I’ve had the most successful “bacon” texture when I made smaller chips with this kind of eggplant:


The only difference is I needed more of them to make a layer in the sandwich, but they worked fine, and did not become too tough or chewy when moistened by lettuce, tomato, mashed red lentils, sweet potato, or that little dab of peanut butter.

There are a gazillion different recipes for bacon-style eggplant out there, and many have more adventurous ingredients than mine. So surf around and see what you like. In my own surfing I discovered the happy raw kitchen’s summary  of her own eggplant bacon surfing, which I found very useful.  I learned its pretty much essential to have a little fat in your recipe to help the eggplant crisp up. So I allowed a little peanut butter into my marinade and it did the trick. Before that I had trouble getting them to crisp. It doesn’t take much, you could probably get away with a 1/2 teaspoon, but it does seem true that you need just a little fat. It’s copy-cat bacon after all.

Maria (moonwatcher)


Leave a Comment

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Veronica September 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Looks really tasty!! I love how you are so very creative with sandwiches. 🙂 I’m glad your sourdough spelt is still working out for you! These little bacony eggplant crisps can probably work well in a lot of things – I can see them on the pizza you mentioned, as a snack, chopped up in a salad… I’m hoping to get a dehydrator for Christmas; so many things to try!


2 moonwatcher September 5, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Thanks Veronica! I know you will have lots of fun with a food dehydrator. Glad Santa is going to bring you one! 🙂 xo


3 Pam September 6, 2014 at 2:45 am

These sound great, Maria. Interesting how that little bit of fat helps them to crisp up.


4 moonwatcher September 6, 2014 at 9:11 am

Thanks, Pam. Yes, it is. It’s just a little though. Perhaps someone with a more “modern” food dehydrator could best me on this, but a little is allowed for me, so I’m enjoying the crunch this way! 🙂


5 Tammy Lee September 19, 2014 at 10:54 am

Look yummy! I just finished dehydrating several lbs of tomatoes. Going to try this next. I just have a very simple (cheap) dehydrator which is either on or off. So I hope it’s up to this challenge!!


6 moonwatcher September 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

Hi Tammy–No worries–mine is very simple, too–I plug it in and it’s on, and unplug it and it’s off–just like yours. I do have some vents in the top that can be open or closed. I do think it helps to start out with putting the bacon on the parchment paper inside the tray, then take it off that and put directly on the tray after an hour or two. Good luck! 🙂


7 Tammy Lee September 19, 2014 at 11:16 am

Thanks!! Mine does have some type of vents but it’s never entirely closed; it’s either vents with big circles or vents with bars.

I will try as you suggest; I think the parchment paper may prevent it from dripping.


8 moonwatcher September 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm

HI Tammy–sounds like we might have the same antique model (which I wrote about in my zucchini bread bar post)–when I start out with the “chips” on the parchment I close the big circles. Then when I take them off the parchment, I open them back up half way. No exact science, sometimes I forget to do this, but it seems to like that general strategy. And yes, at first the parchment paper prevents them from dripping sticking to the rack. Hope it works for you!


9 Miriam September 20, 2014 at 5:48 am

how cool is this! Bought some eggplant to try it out this weekend. Thank you.


10 moonwatcher September 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

You’re welcome, Miriam! 🙂


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